A human rights defender, Badawi is in prison in Saudi Arabia for blogging about freedom of expression and “insulting Islam”.
Members of Canada’s House of Commons have decided to grant citizenship to Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned in his home country for nine years and whose wife and three children live in Canada.
The motion, which was passed unanimously on Wednesday, calls on Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to use his “discretionary power” to grant Canadian citizenship to Badawi, “in order to remedy a particular situation and a unusual distress ”.
Badawi was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, then sentenced to 10 years and 1000 eyelashes in 2014 for blogging about freedom of expression and “insulting Islam”.
He received 50 of those beatings in January 2015, but the rest of the sessions, which were scheduled to take place weekly, were suspended after a global outcry.
Before the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia abolished flogging at the end of April as a form of corporal punishment, Badawi had been the best-known case of flogging in the kingdom.
The blogger was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights by the European Parliament the following year. He is currently serving his prison sentence.
“Now that this is an official request from the House, [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and Minister Marco Mendicino must act, ”declared Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the separatist Bloc Québécois party and sponsor of the bill after the vote.
“Every day counts” for Badawi, “because his health is constantly at risk in prison,” Blanchet said in a statement.
There are days when, despite everything, we are very proud to be in politics for the right reasons.
I can imagine the reception, after more pitfalls I know, that Quebec will reserve for @music_twitter upon arrival in Quebec. We are there for him, and for just causes.@ miss9afi https://t.co/BfRYiOvhE4
– Yves-F. Blanchet 🎗⚜️ (@yfblanchet) January 28, 2021
Translation: There are days when, despite everything, we are very proud to be in politics for the right reasons. I imagine the reception, after more obstacles than I know, that Quebec will give to Raif Badawi on his arrival in Quebec. We are there for him and for good causes.
The news was greeted with joy by the wife of human rights activist Ensaf Haidar. “What news! Raif will be so happy! It gives me hope, ”she said on Twitter, thanking lawmakers for remembering her husband’s case.
What news! Raif will be so happy! It gives him hope. From now on, the whole family will have Canadian citizenship. Thank you 🙏 @BlocQuebecois @YFBlanchet and all MP @OurCommons so as not to forget it. @Anime_Games #Polka pic.twitter.com/3XFoUAXhQN
– Ensaf Haidar ⚜️ (@ miss9afi) January 27, 2021
Relations between Ottawa and Riyadh deteriorated in 2018 when the Canadian government demanded the release of Saudi human rights activists, including Badawi’s sister, Samar Badawi.
Badawi’s wife and her three children, who live in Quebec, have already obtained Canadian citizenship.